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Hidden deep beneath a suburban home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by an army of tireless, little yellow minions, Gru (voice of Steve Carell), is planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays and battle-ready vehicles for, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the irresistible will of three little orphan sisters, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad.

Review by Louise Keller:
Good versus evil with a twist, Despicable Me is an animated adventure that's a combo of derivative, innovative and kooky. It's colourful and bright with larger than life characters and a techno-themed plot that counters themes about self-esteem, family and belonging. Three cute-as-pie little orphan girls are the catalysts that melt the heart of the world's greatest villain, whose aspiration to steal the moon is thwarted by his nerdy nemesis. The storyline is a tad complicated and elements often feel as though they've been worked a little too hard, rather than letting it all just happen. But the film will generally please its family audience with its ideas, great voice cast and nice use of 3D technology that maximises the dimensions.

Steve Carell's long-nosed protagonist Gru with the bald head, spindly legs and continental accent, has had his self-esteem squashed all his life by his nit-picking mother with the Dame Edna glasses and super-long chin (voiced by Julie Andrews). Despite his austere physicality, we can almost excuse him for his villainous aspirations, because we sense that deep down he is made of 'the right stuff'. Unlike the geeky Vector (voiced by Jason Segal), who caresses his keyboard as if it were a guitar and whose Achilles heel is coconut cookies, which the orphans deliver. The orphanage is Miss Hannigan-territory, (red-head monstrous Miss Hattie, voiced by Kristen Wiig) and the three little girls (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher), who just want to be loved, are adorable (the scenes in which Gru reads them a bedtime story, complete with finger puppets is a highlight).

Russell Brand's distinctively accented voice is somewhat wasted on Gru's mad scientist colleague Dr Nefario, but the single and twin-eyed army of yellow banana-like minions with blue overalls provide many of the film's laughs. (I liked the throwaway karaoke in which they sing Barry Manilow's At the Copacabana - slightly altered to Copaca-banana). There's a nicely contrary juxtaposition of ideas - like the high-tech shrink gun, orphans dancing Swan Lake, a hire-wire space rescue and cookie bots set loose as spies. Ultimately, it is the yellow minions who steal the show, offering an opportunity for any number of spin-off stories, if the filmmakers so desired.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Sweet as a lollipop and scoring high on the cute factor (the Japanese will swoon), Despicable Me is a screaming hoot if you're 8-ish, full of delicious silliness, whacky gizmos and baddies to boo. The orphan sisters (all superbly voiced) are so adorable parents will lick the screen. And Steve Carrell does a fabulous job of voicing Gru, the resolute thief with a gadget fetish and a chip on his shoulder since childhood ... mother (incongruously the voice of Julie Andrews) was never satisfied with him. But kids won't take this to heart and swat their mums.

The yellow minions squeak a (cute) language of their own and Dr Nefario (Russell Brand) is wonderful as the mad English scientist. The baddies are great too: Will Arnett as the banker Mr Perkins, a broad shouldered, narrow minded old fart with a piggish face, and his vile son Vector (Jason Segel) who both try to make life miserable for the miserable Gru.

The 3D animation is absolutely fantastic; it's crisp and flexible, the characters are all beautifully realised and the settings are simple and effective. The story sags and drags at times and gets a bit repetitious but the littlies won't notice or care, distracted by the wild characters and noisy antics of the minions. Indeed, the film relies heavily on the score, which carries it over several bumpy or empty stretches, making it seem bigger and better than it is.

There is not that much in it for parents, although a surprising spoof of the horse's head scene from The Godfather finds its way into the film (for no real reason) and the big heart that conveys the essence of the story as Gru realises that what he really wants is not to be wicked and the world's biggest thief but a surrogate dad to the three orphans.

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(US, 2010)

VOICES: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher

PRODUCER: John Cohen, Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri

DIRECTOR: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

SCRIPT: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul

EDITOR: Gregory Perler, Pam Ziegenhagen

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer


RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 9, 2010

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